That’s it –

– my brain’s collapsed. Which is slightly unfortunate seeing how I still have two more days of work to go, but there you are. It’s also slightly ridiculous because I’ve done pretty much everything I needed to do before leaving on Tuesday (though if someone could remind me to pick up some Yen and Aussie dollars before I get to Heathrow, that would be lovely). No, as ever, the vast mountain of stuff I can’t see my way over at the moment is to do with prep for my parents turning up.

How often do I need to bore you with this? At least once more, it seems. Point one: my parents are great. They are not like the rest of my horrible kill-joy small-minded relatives. But. Point two: my parents lose all common sense when they arrive at my flat. Last time, Dad had managed to put on a DVD while I was out of the room but when he wanted to stop it, I happened to be sat next to him. So he looked at me, holding out the remote, asking me how to do it. Because apparently he’d never seen the square button before. Oh, dear reader, I wanted to scream. And it’s both of them, nattering, all the time. I live on my own. I’ve lived on my own for about six years. This is a small flat. I can’t handle that level of interruption.

Point three: my cleanliness threshold is much lower than my parents’. I put this down to, perhaps, them growing up on council estates in the 50s, where everyone was in and out of everyone else’s houses and they’d talk about Mrs Ollerenshaw behind her back if her kitchen floor weren’t spotless. It’s very definitely ingrained, anyway. And I know that no matter how much I clean and tidy in preparation for them living here for the month I’m gone, Dad will spend no longer than five minutes in the flat before he spots that cobweb in the bedroom and goes off to fetch the long-handled broom, all while giving me a look that says ‘you might be old enough to swan off round the world, but you still need your ol’ Dad to clean up after you’. I like that cobweb. It’s been there months. We’re like old friends now. But if I forget to deal with it, I will be judged. Judged, I tell you! And I’m having to put together a massive dossier for them of things like ‘how to work my washing machine’ –

(This is the panel of my washing machine. You’re not here, and I bet you can work out how to use my washing machine. And you haven’t used it several times before.)

– and how not to kill the cat and how to use the trains. Oh, and if anyone knows of anywhere I can get a nice big tourist map for free, please let me know. Because apparently the A-Z – even the magnified bit of zone 1 in the front – is too small for my Mum’s eyes.

Larkin was right. At least it’s making me look forward to a 15 hour flight, just for the opportunity to chill the fuck out.


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